I travel roads from Roanoke
to Mobile’s breezy shore
and often drive the countryside,
sellin’ seeds to General Stores.
‘long the way I seen some sights
that boggle up the mind;
wild and often weirdly things,
south the Mason Dixon line.
I seen the biggest ball of twine,
jumpin’ gators, Elvis shrines,
seen the bourbon mash refined
and miles and miles of kudzu vine.
But the strangest scene I ever saw
was just the other day
while drivin’ down a country road,
up St. Clair County way.
The farms were lined along in rows,
their fence posts zippin’ by,
when all at once a mighty breeze
blew my hair piece ‘cross my eyes.
It took a while to recompose,
steer the car back on the road,
and try to see who blasted past
so fast the sound still echoed.
I pressed my nose to the steerin’ wheel,
stomped the pedal, tires squealed,
to catch up with that dirty heel
who put me thru this-here ordeal.
A cloud of dust obscured my view
but I was keen to rendezvous
and pull ‘longside to curse a few
howdy-doos at this yahoo.
But what I saw instead, firsthand,
I’d swear this on a witness stand,
right beside my black sedan
-- a three legged chicken ran.
The fleeted fowl gave a nod,
then took off like a rocket rod
that sent a plume of dust and sod
‘cross the hood of my new dodge.
And tho’ I tried to close my jaw,
I watched the bird with studied awe.
It hopped a fence of split rail logs
and ran ‘cross a field of fresh cut straw.
Now, that piqued my curiosity.
I slammed the brakes and turned the key,
jumped the fence fancy-free
but approached the farmhouse cautiously.
Sittin’ on the front porch there,
a farmer rocked a rockin’ chair
and whittled wood so unaware
of chickens, chickens everywhere.
They milled about the barnyard free,
pecked the ground right gingerly;
‘bout as normal as can be,
‘cept they all had legs in threes!
I slapped the dust from my white hat
and asked the farmer for a chat.
He looked-me up and down, then spat,
and gave the empty chair a tap.
I took a seat and quickly told
of my encounter on the road.
If he heard, it never showed,
he just kept shavin’ curly rows.
He hummed along then at a pause
he offered me a plug of chaw;
chew tubacci – Cannonball.
I chewed, to be polite and all.
It tasted like a mix between
leather strings and gasoline.
I smiled and nodded thankfully
as I turned two shades of green.
He placed his whittle wood with care
on the handrail that was there,
then propped his boots, a dusty pair,
leaned way back and declared,
Sonny boy, these chicks you see
were bred by sheer necessity.
The wife, and Junior, ‘specially me,
like our drumsticks mightily.
But only two per bird, it seems
the dinner quandaries never cease.
We had to find the expertise
to realign the family peace.
So Junior went to seek the means
at Auburn University
and when he’d made that List of Deans,
he l’arned to splice together genes.
And when indeed he’d done the deed
and come up with this special breed,
we started this-here hatchery
of free-range chickens, hormone free.
Tho’ with the extra legs we’re pleased
there’s yet a bonus to the three
for as you witnessed recently
they’re endowed with blindin’ speed.
Dollar signs danced ‘cross my eyes
and with my best smile so applied,
I told the farmer what a lucky guy
he was that I came by.
For bein’ in the salesman’s game
has given me a business aim
and I could make the farmer’s claim
on chicken legs a household name.
After he had heard my spiel,
I asked him if my thoughts appealed.
He took his whittle, shaved a peel,
then gave a nod to seal the deal.
I stood up quick, prepared to race,
when one last thought held my place.
I turned and said that, in my haste,
I forgot to ask how his chickens taste!
He chewed his chaw, whittled some,
then spit, and said soft spoken,
I’d like to know myself, son
…we never been able to catch one.
(NOTE - the Three Legged Chicken is a tall tale in the public domain. This version is copyrighted, as extrapolated and versed, by Stephen Douglas Hedrick)
Photo by Jack Anthony - www.jjanthony.com
by Stephen Douglas Hedrick
Our quaint kudzu vines
at first seem benign
but quickly entwine
whatever they find.
They blanket the ground
each gully and mound,
the streetlights they crown
and billboards surround.
On telephone wires
they grow like wildfire,
‘cross rooftops and higher
to wrap the church spire.
Your backyard, once trimmed,
is covered with them;
the kid’s jungle gym,
You vow their demise,
pull on your levis,
and spray herbicide.
You hack at the mess
like a man possessed
but lay down to rest,
they’ll grow ‘cross your chest.
must be their sponsors;
seeds sown to conquer
from flying saucers.
Perhaps we should go
along with the flow;
accept kudzu’s role
as art alfresco.
And smile, tho chagrinned,
these vines don’t begin
to ravage our skin,
like their kin– poison ivy!